At the corner of 43rd Street and 9th Avenue in Manhattan, in Hell's Kitchen just west enough of Times Square to make it reasonable, sits an extraordinary restaurant called Chimichurri Grill. A friend introduced us to this tiny Argentinian steakhouse several years ago. It's since been the site of quiet dinners together, celebrations with friends, and glasses of wine while watching the snow fall ever deeper outside. Stunning food and wine, warm-from-the-very-first-moment hospitality from our friends Carlos (the chef) and Wilmer (in the front of the house), and charmingly intimate spaces have made Chimichurri Grill one of our favorite places in New York City, and easily one of our top five restaurants anywhere.
You may be struck, on entering, by how small this place is (reservations recommended at 212.586.8655). We count about thirty seats and a small bar. A four-plate table sits in the window, and is an excellent spot for people watching. Things get cozy further back towards the kitchen, taking you into the embrace of a delightful evening many miles from the stress of the outside as the sun goes down and the lights grow dim. A long table serves larger parties, making this the perfect place for a celebration with friends. Begin with a glass of sparkling wine, and have found nice options in both white and rosé. The menu is well-balanced, but we've a strong recommendation for our particular lineup.
Open with the empanadas. Fillings of chicken, beef, manchego cheese and Swiss chard, corn (when in season) are on offer. They come in pairs, and we have a strong preference for the chicken and the swiss chard, but you can't go wrong in any combination here. Next move to the grilled oysters. Served in rounds of six on beds of crushed salt, you will find no better preparation anywhere. A good rule of thumb here is one order for every two people eating them. Your sparkling wine is a nice pairing here, and can easily carry you through the entire appetizer course unless something else strikes your fancy. We recommend you stick to white, at the very least, if you're taking our advice on the oysters.
Though solid chicken and fish (they are particularly proud of their branzino) are available, we're all-in on the signature steaks here. We've tried a parade of different entrées, and have easily concluded that the Vacio a la Gaucho (Hangar Steak) is far and away the best. Served with warm chimichurri sauce on the side, this elegant presentation is served alone on a wooden plate and garnished with a simple slice of grilled red pepper. It also rings in at a reasonable $26 and a highly reasonable portion size, though there's no shame in a couple splitting here in the interest of enduring through the not-to-be-missed dessert round. Pick what strikes you for the sides, though remember they're served family style and meant to be passed. Switch to red wine for the main course if choosing the steak. We've had tremendous luck with big Cabernet Sauvignon in this pairing, though a Cabernet Franc would be an excellent choice for a little more spice if they have one on the wine list when you visit. Sometimes the tried and true approach really is best!
Panqueques for Dessert
As with the chicken and fish, we've found the dessert menu to be compelling all around, but in the end we come back to the panqueques (crepes). Here you can debate between the Panqueques de Dulce de Leche (thin crepes filled with caramelized milk) and the Panqueques de Manzana (thin caramelized apple crepe topped with caramel ice cream), both served warm. Forced to choose, we'll go manzana, but we prefer to order both. You're doing yourself a disservice if you don't pair this with a dessert wine. We love the sparkling Torrontes that Chimichurri has had on the menu for quite some time. A Port will do nicely in the winter.
Our initial introduction to Chimichurri was actually in appreciation of its excellent whisky selection. Because theirs is a table you're not going to want to leave quickly, we recommend you savor the evening's final moments over a glass of your favorite.
Your excellent meal in the books, Carlos may venture out from the kitchen to say hello and thank you for coming. Attention to detail and pride in their work are most evident. Thank him back, for they're true greats here!